New Bandon Cheese Factory Opens May 8th, 2013

Face Rock logoNext Wednesday, May 8, 2013 the Bandon Chamber of Commerce will host a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the official debut of Face Rock Creamery in Bandon, Oregon. This is not the first cheese factory in Bandon. Many Oregonians and travelers along Highway 101 recall the old Bandon Creamery and its cheese curds fondly. But the former creamery (which had been open since the 1930s) struggled financially throughout the 1980s and 1990s, changed hands several times and even closed at one point. In 2000, the Tillamook County Creamery Association purchased the failing factory (see an article about the sale here). In 2002, Tillamook closed the creamery entirely and the facility was later demolished -- and those latter years are still a sore subject among Bandon devotees.

Now cheese is returning to Bandon, thanks to the efforts of developer Greg Drobot, Bandon city leaders and the Port of Bandon. At the helm of Face Rock Creamery will be cheesemaker Brad Sinko, who was the cheesemaker at Beecher's Handmade Cheese for a number of years before returning to his hometown. Brad's father Joe Sinko was one of the former owners of the Bandon Creamery, so it's fitting that son Brad will be at the helm as a new chapter of cheesemaking commences in this small town on the southern Oregon coast.

In fact, Sinko has been busy these past few months - he's already been making cheese at Rogue Creamery in Central Point Oregon, 160+ miles to the east, for several months. Face Rock Creamery cheese curds made their debut at the Oregon Cheese Festival this past March. Starting next week, devotees will finally be able to stop by the creamery in Bandon to get their cheese fix, just like the days of old.

U. S. Championship Cheese Contest 2013 - Northwest Winners

Results have just been announced for the U. S. Cheese Championships, held semi-annually in Wisconsin. After scrolling through the list, I'd have to say that the story in this year's competition is the performance of Wisconsin cheesemakers, who took the Championship by storm, including the coveted Best in Show prize. Northwest cheesemakers did not show as well as they have in previous years (see, for example, the 2009 results, where Oregon's Tumalo Farms took runner up to Best in Show) though results depend in part on who enters from year to year. Best in Show

Holland's Family Cheese Thorp, Wisconsin Mature Gouda

**** You can find a complete list of results here. Thanks to the organizers for making the results a little more user friendly this year!

Tillamook County Creamery Association (Oregon)

Cheddar, Sharp (aged 6 mo to one year) 1st place – Yellow Sharp Cheddar

Cheddar, Aged 2 yrs or longer White Aged Cheddar (placed 1st and 2nd)

Marbled Curd Cheese 1st place – Colby Jack

Pepper Flavored Jack 3rd Place – Jalapeno Pepper Jack

Rogue Creamery (Oregon)

Smoked Soft and Semi Soft Cheeses 3rd place – Smokey Blue

Soft & Semi-Soft Mixed Milk Cheeses 1st place – Echo Mountain Blue

Glanbia Cheese Co. (Idaho) note: Glanbia is an industrial cheese plant located in Gooding, Idaho

Bandaged Cheddar, Mild to Medium 1st Place - Bandaged Cheddar

Monterey Jack 1st Place - Monterey Jack

Marbled Curd Cheese 2nd Place - Colby/Jack

Gouda, Flavored 3rd Place - Gouda, Olives and Garlic

Pepper Flavored Cheese 3rd Place - Red Habanero Gouda

Reduced Fat Hard Cheeses 1st Place - Reduced Fat Cheddar

Reduced Sodium Cheese 2nd place - Reduced Sodium Cheddar

The following regional artisans also placed in the top 10 in their class: Briar Rose Creamery (OR)  6th Place - Soft Goat's Milk Cheese (fresh chevre) and 5th Place - Semi-Soft Goat Cheese (feta); Jacobs Creamery (WA)  9th Place  Brie, Camembert and Other Surface Ripened Cheeses (Bloomy)

Cheese News November 2012

@@  Nancy Leson of the Seattle Times wrote a glowing piece recently about Meghan McKenna, cheesemaker at Washington's Mountain Lodge Farm. I recently visited the farm, tucked into the foothills of Mt. Rainier east of Tacoma, and I have to agree, this cheesemaker is one to watch! @@  Christine Hyatt has produced a series of outstanding videos about a number of Oregon's cheesemakers. Her latest covers Liz Alvis of Portland Creamery (see here).

@@ Now open in Portland - Clay Pigeon Winery and its associated wine bar, Cyril's at Clay Pigeon. This project is the brainchild of Sasha Davies and Michael Claypool; Sasha is well known in cheese circles as an expert cheesemonger and author of The Guide to West Coast Cheese and the new The Cheesemaker's Apprentice: An Insider's Guide to the Art and Craft of Homemade Artisan Cheese, among many other things. Michael and Sasha's Cheese by Hand project chronicled their 2006 trip across the country visiting dozens of artisan cheese makers.

@@  Bandon, Oregon used to be famous for its cheese factory. The factory struggled financially though, and in 2002 the Tillamook County Creamery Association purchased the factory, later closing it. Now plans are underway to revive the legacy of cheesemaking on the southern Oregon coast - Face Rock Creamery hopes to be open by Summer 2013.

@@  It's what they call "Cyber Monday," and don't forget that you can also order cheese online as well as iPads and Xboxes... A number of the Pacific Northwest's cheesemakers offer online ordering, including Rogue Creamery, Mt. Townsend CreameryBeecher's Handmade Cheese, Tumalo Farms, and Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese. You can also order cheese online from Oregon State University (the new Beaver Classic) and Washington State University (Cougar Gold plus several other styles). Other cheesemakers, including Little Brown Farm on Whidbey Island in Washington and Briar Rose Creamery in Oregon's wine country, host on-farm stores if you're in their area. Don't forget local cheese for the holidays!

@@  Speaking of Beecher's Handmade Cheese, word is that they're producing a new cow's milk cheese at the New York plant called Dutch Hollow Dulcet. I guess we can't really consider this a new Northwest cheese, since it's made from New York milk in a New York facility...can we?